State-Building in Iraq
Addressing the Structural and Functional Gaps,
With Reference to the Constitution
Following decades of authoritarian rule and highly centralised governing system, the people of Iraq adopted a democratic Constitution in 2005, designed to put Iraq on an evolutionary roadmap for democracy, rule-of-law and economic prosperity. The Constitution consists of 144 Articles which, together, define the main pillars of a democratic governance and provide frameworks and boundaries for their enactment, with or without mandating new legislations. However, translating the Constitution into reality proved extremely challenging.
Over the past 16 years, the political and institutional leaders have engaged in overt sectarian political dynamics that proved detrimental to the state-building process. They were highly selective in enacting, key constitutional Articles. Many essential institutions and/or legislations that are mandated by the Constitution are awaiting establishment, some of which are critical for enhancing the rule-of-law, safeguarding the Constitution, streamlining the legislative cycle, institutionalising the centre-periphery relations, empowering the local government and optimising the management of national resources and assets. As a consequence, there are currently numerous structural and functional gaps or weaknesses in Iraq’s governing system, which have added to the country’s fragility and acted as independent drivers of conflict.
In this report, attempts are made to: (a) Identify the key structural and functional gaps or weaknesses in the governing system that have arisen from inadequate implementation of the Constitution; (b) highlighting the relevant historical context and political barriers for progress; and (c) offer appropriate policy recommendations to stakeholders.
Methodological Note: The data for this report were collected from September 2020 to March 2021. To maximise the breadth and depth of the information collected, a mixed qualitative methods approach was adopted, which included: a preliminary desk review of the existing literature, 21 semi-structured interviews and three focus group discussions with policy- and decision-makers at the federal level, including Council of Representative officials, government advisors, and subject matter experts in Baghdad. The conclusions and recommendations proposed here in this report, have been presented, shared and discussed with participants of the focus group discussions for further verification and contextuality.